Friday, January 28, 2011

Wrap It Up Already- "Adopt a Packet"

Adopt a “packet” - $10.00

Proceeds to support outreach project for

Arts Street Textile Studio:

handmade with the homeless

When the exhibit is disassembled, you will receive a photo of your packet and a signed copy of the artist statement.

Promoting visibility and dignity through the work of our hands.”

To check out The Art Street Textile Studio, click this link.

Don't miss this exciting chance to be a part of something wonderful.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wrap It Up Already-The Statement

After the holidays, while prepping for a New Year & decade, it is not uncommon to reflect on the past, and create for the future. This gallery installation is a somber glimpse into the con ceptual world of the ‘stuff’ we are made of, of the ‘piles’ of demands and expectations we place on ourselves as we navigate through the world of our own hopes and dreams; and, the illusions of importance and purpose.

Over the course of the last few months, I put a call-out to many folks to collect & an onymously drop-off their used holiday wrapping paper, as well as to write on a separate piece of paper, New Year’s Resolutions and their own To-Do lists. During this time, I started a major ‘cleansi ng’ of the paper work of my own life…. greeting cards, old faded articles to read, rejection notices , old love letters, old bills, out-dated prospectus’, etc….

Sometimes loss and rejection propel us toward something greater; sometimes sheer determination and grace gets us to move along forward to find beauty and meaning.

In this exhibit, each ‘packet’ contains the essence of completion & renewal, the re- gifting of possibilities, the promise of direction & instruction in the somewhat garish foreign language of imagination and hope.

These ’cairns’ are the souvenirs of collective memory and desire, the markers of resolve. The ceremonious act of shredding and wrapping and placing, at first like a cremation, a spreading of ashes, becomes as a preparation for a holiday Secret Santa ‘grab-bag’.

K. Pannepacker

January, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wrap It Up, Already: Behind the Scenes

Since this was our first gallery installation piece, we weren't quite sure what to expect. Friends, family, and co-workers, dropped off copious amounts of wrapping paper at 'some things looming' over the weeks following the holidays. We had small bags, large bags, even lawn and leaf bags full of wrapping paper! We piled them up in the third room of the gallery, where they sat waiting, leaving us to wonder, "What on earth is Kathryn going to DO with all this stuff?"

She arrived on Friday with her suitcase filled to the brim with even more paper! A shredder, some scotch tape, scissors, and a concept, Kathryn closeted herself into the gallery for the first few hours considering the construction of her piece, drawing upon inspiration. After a bit, I heard the shredder and dared to poke my head in the door. I didn't want to disturb the process, after all, but I thought the sound of the machine might be a good time to sneak a peek and offer my assistance.

Bows, tissue paper, ribbon, all littered the floor in a pile to one side, while squares and rectangles of re-claimed paper were laid out nice and neat. I was given instructions to dig through the bags and bags of paper, find large un-ripped, un-taped, sections, square it up, and smooth them out. Counting piles of ten for purposes of tally, occasionally, I would clear the floor, only to repeat the process, over and over again. Meanwhile, Kathryn continued to shred and wrap packets, each packet containing the tiny pieces of paper that had made up her life over the past years: greeting cards, old faded articles to read, rejection notices, old love letters, old bills, out-dated prospectus, etc.

The next day continued much in the same way as the first: shred, wrap, shred, wrap, shred and wrap some more. Saturday Sampler classes had resumed so we left Kathryn to create her piece, our very capable intern, Caleigh lending her hands to the process. Piles of packets continued to grow as the day continued, the numbers, I believe, totaling over 200. I'm betting Caleigh's family will be receiving their future presents in gift bags for a long time to come. I might even be safe to presume she was wishing she had never seen wrapping paper before, and never wanted to see another scrap of it again.

The musical hums of the shredder, the sounds of crinkling paper, and the muted conversations flowed down the hallway and melted into the background while we all worked. Kathryn closeted herself in the gallery, focused on her piece. Rebekah was in the office, processing intake, paying artists, and updating the database. Floyd could be found here and there, helping where needed, photographing progress, running up and down stairs, getting this, and finding that. And I moved between the Office and the Boutique tagging new items, arranging and re-arranging again and again. Lost in our own little worlds, Saturday slipped by before we knew it. Fatigue dragged at each and every one of us by the end, so we called it a day, knowing we had left bits and pieces to do first thing Sunday morning before opening.

Arriving at 9 am, we worked to put the finishing touches on the exhibit. We sent Floyd to Staples as soon as they opened to pick up the over-sized print out of the statement for the installation. He walked in, jangling the bells on the door, bringing a blast of chilled air behind him. We glued the statement to foam board, hung it in the gallery. Then we proceeded to set up places for the gallery book and "Adopt a Packet." Prepping the food for the reception, I spent the first hour or so in the kitchenette on the third floor, while Rebekah did some last minute printing, and Kathryn prepped her gallery book. Soon one o'clock arrived, and visitors began to stream through the front door, shaking snow and slush from their feet, brushing off the cold from their bodies. We mingled, meeting new people, greeting familiar faces. And all too suddenly, it was over.

As is our habit after every show, we parked ourselves on the bench in the hall. It was at that precise moment, our stomachs had reminded us that we skipped lunch. While debriefing and unwinding from the long weekend, we finally took the downtime to have a bite to eat . Sitting and chatting, it is always the perfect ending to a perfect day.

It has been an amazing experience to watch the process of this powerful piece come together. And I, for one, have been truly impacted for having been a part. I hope you'll stop by our gallery, see the installation in person, and read her statement. We'd love to see you there. ~Melanie

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Apparently, I Am A Gen-ee-yus (Genius) and didn't know it...

I was very premature in my previous lament about a narrow saddle blanket masquerading as a hand-woven scarf. As I often do, when things are (huff) "already ruuuuined" (sigh) I decided no harm, no foul, might as well throw it in the washer and then the dryer to save myself the time and headache of hand-washing.

I always wash my handwovens. I believe the technical term is "wet finishing" but really, I call it 'washing' because that's what I do. If it's a delicate fiber, I fill up a bucket, or a tub, or a sink with water and soap. If it's hand-dyed, I get out my special-fancy-dancy-for-dying-textiles suds, and then I do a second washing with el-cheapo shampoo. And then I add el-cheapo conditioner to the first rinse. Wool is sheep hair, right? Occasionally, if I want to make something easy-care cotton for the wearer of one my handwovens, I might throw it through the washer and dryer anyway. I want to know my gift can be worn, and abused, and take the punches that comes with living la vida loca.

But this embarrassment to all hand-woven kind was "ruuuu-iiiiiined!" and I no longer cared about it's outcome anyway. Die a long arduous death by heavy duty cycle. See what I care. I was finished, as far as I was concerned, and already plotting how I could cut it up and use it for something else.

Was I yet to be thwarted, again, by this scrap calling itself a scarf? Apparently yes, because it emerged from the dryer, soft, pliable, and lovely, if a bit plagued by static electricity. The fringe might have been standing on end, which might have cause my own hair to stick straight up in a lovely halo of brunette fuzz, but that minor issue was fixable, were I able to control the humidity and weather. Delighted by my own stupidity, er, happy accident, I finished the fringe and determined the scarf worthy to be worn. I showed it to a few people who immediately looked like I lost a few marbles, "What were you talking about? This is lovely."

I'm truly surprised at it's transformation just from taking a whirl in the spin cycle. Now, I'm left to question, what are the chances of my being able to replicate the experiment twice?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In search of a brain...umm, I mean yarn.

I'm sitting here with my mouth on fire, lips tingling from the spicy buffalo wings I just ingested. I figured while I was between wings, I'd quickly jot down a blog post. Allowing sufficient time for the burn to abate might be considered an added incentive, but in truth, I figured it's been awhile since I updated the blog. (Let's blame the weather and the holidays for that, shall we?) Why am I eating spicy buffalo wings at 8:25 pm on a Wednesday evening? Because I just got home from 'some things looming' where I was working in the loom room sampling yarn.

I've been looking for soft, inexpensive but nice, chunky, 2 ply yarn to weave with. Why soft, inexpensive but nice, chunky, 2 ply yarn? Because I want a yarn has a low epi (ends per inch or the amount of lengthwise threads that fit into an inch, for the non-weavers out there). I could go into the reasons why, but for now, that's secondary to the task at hand. It's an uninteresting pursuit, I know, and yet, I sit here and write all about it, anyway. I'd even bet that there's plenty of folks out there who could recommend exactly the yarn I need. (Feel free!)

I usually work with cottons, rayons, linens, silks, copper wire, and blends thereof, that are rather thin, as in fingering weight or thinner, for you knitters out there. Most of my pictoral weavings are made up with various mill ends, and of varying textures. My warp is always perle cotton, sometimes mixed with other things, but mostly, it's just the vehicle for the imagery, so it doesn't have to be luxurious or glamorous, since it hides in the background, merely providing the structure to the cloth. Utilizing tapestry and lace techniques, I alternate transparent areas with opaque. So, apparently, I've gotten rather out of practice when it comes to threading my loom in anything but a straight 1-2-3-4 draw with fuzzy, fluffy yarn. You see, I only need four shafts threaded in the most basic of ways to accomplish my work. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it).

Want to know where to get good mill ends? I could possibly recommend a few places. Want to buy perle cotton in bulk? I have a few sources, some I don't use anymore, yet I could probably tell someone where to look. Soft, inexpensive but nice, chunky, 2 ply yarn? Apparently, I have no clue. Hence my quest.

Detail, Kaliedscopic Daydreams, (c) 2009
melanie ritter mitchell

No stone is going unturned. Along the many paths I've searched, I've found wool yarn that's definitely nice, and uh, well, somewhat thicker, with a recommended epi of 10, so that fits, sort-of. But I'm not yet convinced it's all that soft. I'll work it up tomorrow, wash it and brush it, and see what I've got, but until then, I'm just hoping I'll end up surprised. I've found soft, 2-ply wool yarn, but it's kind of thin, and I'm looking for bulk. The other day while on my hunt, I had a lovely phone conversation with the Master Weaver at Halcyon yarn and learned a few things that 15 years of weaving never taught me, but still no real satisfactory answer. I've even checked out the yarn section of the mega-monster-craft store. Which is what I was working with tonight. Surprisingly it wasn't all that bad, but I completely forgot the rule of sampling before I sample. In other words, I should have made a small swatch, before working it up into full length test-scarf. Good thing it only took me three and a half hours to set up, weave, and cut off the project. I might be more depressed than I already am. I would have needed to add an entire bag of Hershey's chocolate nuggets to my buffalo wing dinner. (Chicken Molé anyone?)

Apparently I'm brain dead, because I know better. And it pains me to admit to such a mistake, out loud, all over the world wide web. But hey, I made a very nice balanced plain weave. Not too much of the weft showing. Not too much of the warp. If I were weaving a saddle blanket, I'd be extremely proud of myself right about now instead of writing a confession to the world. I know what I did wrong. Even understanding my mistake doesn't take the sting from this perfectionist's heart. So tomorrow, I will make sure the brain is fueled up, neurons firing, before I face my loom again. And I will continue my quest for soft, inexpensive but nice, chunky 2 ply yarn, because at this point, it's no longer about the project at hand. It's all about the conquering the quest. Oh and hey, I can feel my lips again. Guess I can go finish my dinner now.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wrap It Up, Already: The Artist

Kathryn Pannepacker is a textile/visual artist living in Philadelphia, PA. She graduated from Penn State University with a major in English and a minor in art. Afterwards, back in the late 80's, for 4 years in Berkeley, CA., she apprenticed with 3rd generation French tapestry weaver, Jean Pierre Larochette and his partner, Yael Lurie, a painter and designer for tapestry. Kathryn then went to Aubusson, France to continue weaving as an artist-in-resident. She also had the opportunity to be an artist-in-resident in Hachioji, Japan, through the Japan Foundation.

Though still weaving pictorial tapestry, she also weaves with unusual materials. She is the former director of the DaVinci Art Alliance, and still serves on the board there. She is a rostered teaching artist for the PA Council On the Arts/ Artists and Education, Young Audiences of PA., and BuildaBridge. Kathryn serves as artistic consultant to 'some things looming', fiber arts gallery, boutique and stuidos in Reading, PA.

Through the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, Kathryn painted a 7' x 500ft wide mural called Wall of Rugs: the global language of textiles at Girard and Belmont Avenues featuring the textiles of 42 countries. Part 2 was just completed at Broad and Lehigh Streets.

Kathryn exhibits locally, nationally and internationally, and has work in private and public collections. She is committed to the transformative power of art in people's lives and the sustainability of such transformation by involving the community.

See her featured in the spring 2009 issue of AMERICAN CRAFT.

Kathryn's work:

FINDING HOME, a textile mural bringing light to issues of homelessness. Leading weaving workshops at safe haven/shelters throughout Philadelphia making the canvas for the painted mural. Mural Arts Program & the Dept. of Behavioral Health's Porch Light Initiative, Philadelphia.

Continuing the exciting studio via the Finding Home mural project that Kathryn and Leslie Sudock have had this past year as a collective of artists and artisans (with/home & home/less), the goal for the studio/gallery space at 626 South Street is to make, exhibit and sell fine art and craft items. The space is a studio, gallery & boutique showcasing the works of individuals who identify as artists and artisans, and some, sometimes stigmatized because of being homeless or in a challenging situation. The aim to bring visibility and dignity for all. For those who want to come and create in the studio space during the day and learn new skills, a nominal daily payment of one dollar is charged and a 'no non-sense' respectful, professional approach is equally applied to all.

To know Kathryn is to love her, her work, her heart.... Come see her exhibit on January 23rd and have an opportunity to meet this amazing artist.